Social Security Disability Resource Center

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How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?

When a person is drawing Social Security Disability or SSI benefits, they are not prevented from working, but working while getting disability does has the potential to affect eligibility for monthly disability benefits.

Why? Because Social Security disability and SSI both have an income limit. The limit on how much a person can make from earned income is called substantial gainful activity or SGA. Each year Social Security sets the SGA limit by determining a monthly amount of gross earnings that it considers to be self-supporting. If a disability beneficiary earns above the SGA monthly amount, their benefit may be suspended or even terminated.

In other words, the SGA how money you can make on a monthly basis before you become ineligible to receive disability benefits through either Social Security Disability or SSI. As long as your earnings are under the SGA limit, you should not have to worry about losing your benefits.

What if you are unsure that you can work, even on a limited basis, but still want to try working after you start to receive disability benefits? For that, Social Security provides "trial work months". A disability beneficiary is entitled to nine trial months in a five-year period, beginning with the first month in which they have monthly earnings over the trial work limit (yes, there is another earnings limit that affects disability entitlement). The trial work month earnings limit is always less than the SGA limit.

While an individual has the option of having monthly earnings over the SGA limit during the trial work period, trial work months can be exhausted even if the person's earnings are under SGA, if they have used up their nine trial work months.

Trial work months can be performed anytime during the five period and do not have to be consecutive. Once a person has used their trial work months, they have to stay below the SGA limit in order to avoid work suspensions that could cause them to be overpaid at the very least. Overpayments occur because any month a person earns SGA or more, they are not entitled to be paid for that month. Additionally, if a person performs SGA-level work activity consistently, month after month, it could lead to an eventual termination of disability benefits.

Related: What should you do when a social security disability or ssi overpayment occurs?

After all, the definition of Social Security disability is any medically determinable mental or physical impairment that has prevented a person from performing SGA for twelve months, is expected to prevent the performance of SGA for twelve months, or is expected to end in death. It would stand to reason that consistent performance of work activity at the SGA earnings level could lead to a finding of "medical improvement" for a Social Security disability beneficiary.

This is why if a person is drawing disability they should be concerned about work activity and what it could suggest when Social Security reviews the claim at a later date. All claims are subject to periodic reviews every few years and these are called continuing disability reviews.

  • What medical conditions will get you approved for disability?

  • What kind of Mental Problems Qualify for Disability?

  • Which conditions will social security recognize as a disability?

  • Tips for getting Social Security Disability or SSI benefits approved

  • SSDRC Homepage:

    Social Security Disability and SSI Resource Center

    The Most Basic questions about Getting Disability Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI and whether or not you can work

    Common Mistakes to avoid after being denied for Disability

    Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    More Social Security Disability SSI Questions and Answers

    Common Questions about Social Security Disability and SSI

    Winning Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    The SSI Disability Benefits Program

    Medical exams for disability claims

    Applying for Disability in various states

    Social Security Disability SSI and Doctors - Yours and Theirs

    Social Security Disability and SSI Claim Reviews

    Social Security Disability SSI System and Benefits for Children

    Denials, Appeals, and Getting a Disability Lawyer or Representative

    What you should know about Social Security Disability and SSI Denials

    Questions about Disability Lawyers and Hiring a Disability Attorney

    Frequently asked questions about getting Denied for Disability Benefits

    FAQ on Disability Claim Representation

    Disability hearings before Judges

    Selecting and hiring Disability Lawyers

    Various Types of Benefits including SSI, Mental, and Child benefits

    Social Security and SSI based on Mental Disability

    Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits for Children

    Disability Benefits through Social Security

    Filing for Social Security Disability or SSI Benefits

    Social Security Disability SSI: Medical Evidence and Records

    Filing your claim for disability benefits

    Eligibility for receiving disability benefits

    Info about Social Security Disability Approvals and Being Approved

    FAQ on Social Security Disability SSI decisions

    The SSD SSI Decision Process and what gets taken into consideration

    Resources on this site

    Social Security Disability, SSI Terms and Definitions

    Previously answered questions regarding SSD and SSI

    For Individuals living in North Carolina

    Applying for Disability in North Carolina

    North Carolina Disability Lawyer

    Related pages:

    How long does a Social Security Disability judge have to make a ruling?
    Denial by an ALJ at a Disability Hearing
    How long does it take a disability judge to make a decision?
    Will the income of a Spouse Affect My Disability Benefits?
    How Much Income Can A Person Earn If He Draws Social Security Disability?
    Social Security Disability - What is considered earned income versus unearned income according to the SSA?
    How important is reporting income for those who currently receive disability benefits?
    How much can I get in Social Security Disability Income?
    What Determines Social Security Disability Income?
    If you apply for disability in Alabama
    Will I qualify for disability Alabama
    Is there an income limit to be under when you apply for disability?
    Social Security back pay and temporary state disability benefits

    These pages answer some of the most basic questions for individuals who are considering filing a claim.

    Filing for disability - How to file for SSD or SSI and the Information that is needed by Social Security
    How to Apply for Disability - What medical conditions can you apply and qualify for?
    Applying for Disability - How long does it take to get Social Security Disability or SSI benefits?
    What happens if I file a disability application and it is denied by a disability examiner or Judge?
    How to Prove you are disabled and qualify to win disability benefits
    How do you prove your disability case if you have a mental condition or impairment?
    Social Security Disability Back pay and How Long it Takes to Qualify for it and receive it
    Social Security Disability SSI - Eligibility Requirements and Qualifications Criteria